Not one new book but two!!

5 May 2009 in

punkfictionpaintavulgarpictureI’ve got new short stories in not one, but two brand new anthologies, published this month:  Punk Fiction and Paint A Vulgar Picture (both links will take you to Amazon) -  ‘Public Image Ltd’ in ‘Punk Fiction’, and ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ in ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’.

‘Punk Fiction’ is edited by one of my fabulous students on the MA, Janine Bullman, while ‘Paint a Vulgar Picture’ is edited by Peter Wild.

Both stories take and develop further a character I’ve been writing about for a while now - five short stories to date. All stories are told in the first person, narrated by Richard, who is turning out to be a slightly lonely, slightly crackers, middle-aged man, devoted father and husband (though there is an edge to the latter relationship), estranged from his father…  This is not something I’ve done before, found myself writing about the same character in a series of stories, but I’ve been enjoying it, and plan to write more.

Here’s a very short Richard story, first one I wrote in fact.

The Day the Mormons Came

I was at home with a sick child when the doorbell rang.  I opened the door and was faced with a small army of Mormons.

‘We have come to share our news with you and your boy.’  The tallest one spoke first.

‘You have?’  How did they know about the boy?

‘Yes, Richard, we have heard you calling us, late at night, we have heard your voice in the blessed ether.’

‘You have?’  How did they know my name?  And calling out, late at night, this was news to me.  Or was it?  Did I call out at night for a God I did not believe in?  The idea felt uncomfortably familiar.  I’m practically a professional atheist; I work as an orderly in the secure psychiatric wing of the hospital.  God abandoned those people a long time ago.  And now there is the sick child to add to my list of grievances.

‘You know,’ I said, ‘the boy’s not well.  We’re having a quiet day.  You’ll have to come back another time.’

‘We don’t have long here on earth,’ the shortest one said.

‘Things are happening.’

‘Well, nothing is happening in my house.  We are quite all right without you. Thanks but no thanks.’

I closed the door abruptly. As they turned away, a couple of them gave each other stiff masculine hugs, as though expressing the depth of their disappointment in me. I went back into the sitting room and lay down on the sofa. My boy came over and got on top of me. I put my arms around him and we turned our full attention to the TV.


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